Sages will answer this question differently, such as “there’s nothing you can do to awaken” or “the ‘you’ that’s trying to awaken isn’t what awakens.” The following is an answer from Leonard Jacobson. Leonard is an awakened teacher who has been sharing his simple and direct way of awakening for the past 35 years. His book, Journey Into Now, is one of my favorites. Below is an answer that exemplifies much of the core of his teaching. Enjoy!
What must I do, what must happen, for me to AWAKEN and be free? How do I do this? Where is the moment from asleep to awake?
To live an awakened life requires a deep intention on your part to be present. Every moment you have the choice. Will you choose to be present with what is actually here now, or will you choose to be in the world of the thinking mind, which is an illusory world of thought, memory and imagination. The choice is yours. It is up to you and no one else. No guru can help you. Spiritual practices will ultimately fail. The present moment is always available. It never withdraws and it never gives up on you. It constantly re-presents itself to you. In truth it never goes away. But you have to choose it.
The more you choose Presence, the more grounded you will become in the truth and reality of the present moment. The more grounded you are in the truth and reality of the present moment, the more you will experience the sacred and the divine in those ordinary moments. If your commitment is to being present, then there will come a time when being present becomes your natural state. The present moment becomes your home and you will have short excursions into the world of the mind, but you never go so far into the mind that you will get lost.
Everything that occurs within the world of the mind is of the remembered past or imagined future. None of it is happening now. If you become identified with your thoughts, memories or imaginings, then you take yourself out of the present moment. You take yourself into an illusory world and deprive yourself of the true life, which can only be lived in this moment.
If there are any wounds or limiting patterns or beliefs from the past, which are preventing you from moving into the present moment, then they will begin to surface and it is up to you to bring them into the full light of consciousness, so that healing and release can occur within an environment of unconditional love and acceptance.
If you are still having difficulty choosing to be present, then we will have to examine more closely what your ego is up to. What is it so desperately trying to hold on to? What is it afraid of? What are its tricks and strategies to keep you in its world of the past and future? All of these things will have to be brought to the light of consciousness.
A complete absence of judgment is one of the principal keys to awakening. Examine judgment in your life. It can be very subtle.
You ask where is the moment from asleep to awake. There is only one possible answer. Here!!! Now!!! Where else can you awaken but here? And when, if not now?
Remember that in truth, there is nothing but the present moment. In truth, you can never be anywhere else. The experience of being somewhere other than in the present moment is nothing more than an illusion which is created when you enter the world of the mind, and become identified with the story that is unfolding there.
In a way, it is artificial to imagine that you can awaken in any kind of permanent way. Even permanence is an illusion. There is only NOW. And so the question that constantly arises is “Am I awake and fully present NOW? And of course, that question arises and is answered in perfect silence.
Awakening is the simplest thing in the world. It feels so much better to be present rather than in the world of the mind. The present moment is the doorway to God. The present moment IS God. Why doesn’t everyone choose it?